Alone against the storm she fights while others

bow and wait, hide and bend for cover,

dares show her face, however shy the smile

sky-blue, a rare appearance, mixed with guile

she braves the skittering wind, stays upright in the gale

and won’t give up, while those around her fall.

However fine her petals, they draw the light

and nourish stems and roots, fight off the blight

so we can share with her her seed, her fibre

and her firm resolve,

weave her linen flax around our limbs, be bold

and brave the storm which comes to shake the fields,

stand upright, sure and smiling as it wields

that flash of slaying hand we will abate,

like her, with full determined grace.



This poem was written following the knife attacks in Paris and London and a terrific wind storm in Normandy, after which I found a lone flax flower still standing in a partially devastated field.

The north part of Normandy, thanks to the humid climate and silt in the soil which retains the humidity, is one of the regions of France best suited for flax growing. Half of European linen grows in Normandy; France cultivates 76% of European linen. France is the first producer of linen in the world, ahead of China and Russia.  China produces linen of lower quality; it buys scutched linen from France which is then spun and woven in China.




Apollo Asteroid 2014 JO25

Apollo asteroid 2014 JO25 is expected to brush by Earth tonight missing us by 1.8 million km. Asteroids and comets both orbit the Sun. Asteroids are rocky, whereas comets are icy.  The Sun’s heat vapourizes material from a comets’ surface; the vapour forms a tail.  This Springtime, while Appollo Asteroid 2014 JO25 flies over us, here is an ode: 


I pruned the roses, dug up roots
hacked down trees, raked the earth,
scalped the land, couldn’t go far enough                                         while you stood still

You said I was mad, I dug harder
cut through horizons, swept all clean
left you behind                                                                                 on Earth

The view of Earth is blurred from up here
like silver through frost of the breath I blew.
Up here all is clear, there is rock and ravine
smooth-clean, the ground is hard
there is shadow and light I could cut with a knife                              but I won’t.

Occasionally I have a fleeting visitor
his mane is on fire, he is in a hurry
I watch his trail vanish, but he will be back
in the same fuiry, over and over
and over again                                                                                I prefer it like that.

Illustration by French artist, illustrator and engraver Christine Chamson. Copyright Christine Chamson


Brydon Thomason

You wheel magnificent into the fray
dive, spear, soar, swerve away
from the thieving gang to serve your young
on the basalt cliffs where they nest in the sun
waiting and watching the war you wage,
learning the art of focused rage,
of switch, reshape, plunge,
zigzag through swells to kill in shoals,
so agile the art of keel and roll,
of a dance turned to fight,
of sardine pierced on a spike.
No matter the weather, the will to win,
the dazzling thrust of body and limb –
like Cleopatra, the power-lust,
the azure eyes contoured in kohl
head alert, in full control.

Photo: Tony Heald,
Photo: Tony Heald,

Like Cleopatra the gilded crown,
the shapely curves, the hint of down,
no sign of the battle, you stun and destroy,
queen of air and sea, subversive your ploy
sharp angled the thrust, the knife in the flesh,*
assassin instinct to keep your head high.
Yet on land you stumble, hop ungainly to your nest
the only place of rest.




source: isleofmaynnr

Gannets spend most of their time at sea, coming to land only to nest on crags by the coast to lay their eggs and nurture their young. They are awkward on land, often stumbling.  Male and female Gannets are similar with their white body, black tipped wings and tail, the crown on their heads a golden colour and their eyes blue and contoured by black skin.  It has been said that you can distinguish the female from the male by the line running down the front of the leg and onto the toes of the webbed feet: the line is yellow green on the male bird, bluish green on the female.  Females dive deeper – up to 15 metres – for longer lengths of time than the male. Even if this bird can fly up to 65 kms/hr, its flying muscles are under-developed in comparison with those of other sea birds, which means it labours to take off from the water, frantically beating its wings and using the wind to get lift-off.  It dives spectacularly, up to a speed of 100 kms/hr; it’s nostrils are located inside the mouth and can be closed in water.


*The notorious Cleopatra of renowned fame is said to have killed her sister and two brothers. The likeness here to the beautiful gannet’s head is striking, and her capability to strike when it suits is also similar…








Mute Swan


Smooth curve in the neck, wings arched,
like the ‘S’ I drew on the blue line at school
to prove I could write on the line like he, who
swims to perfection.
But like me, speechless in class, his voice sticks in his throat
Is it fear, or is it some tethered desire
makes him hiss and choke?

He squints down his face past his features nose
to a red blade-bill, weapon or wand
which kills or bewitches or seals a bond
or gather the weeds to feed his pair.
He struggles to lift – that heavy despair
hinders ascent – yet across the sky
headlong with his mates he flies
dazzling in a squadron of trouble
each limb and wing, muscle and whim
in missile formation fierce in attack.

Yet on land such harmonious form
the speechless charm, no hint of a struggle
all fashioned in feathers so light, as white
as the clouds, his voluptuous dance,
his ease as he glides over water so blue
like my pen on the page that one day at school.


The Mute Swan can be recognised by the large bump at the top of the beak. Source: All About Birds


Swan Patrol. Source: BBC

Despite its name, the mute swan is not totally mute: he makes various explosive and hissing noises.  In spring the black knob of the male on the bill is greatly enlarged, and his bill gets redder.  The mute swan is a sociable bird, but not in the breeding season; it can readily assume an aggressive attitude.  They were imported from Europe to the US during the 1800s for their beauty, and from then on, escaping into the wild, they reproduced. They normally mate – mostly for life – at the age of three or four years old and both sexes incubate the eggs which are laid April-May and hatch after 35 – 40 days.



Dragonfly hovering
mirrored in waterstill
fish stunned by neon-flash green-blue
doubleflick wings.
He flutters, snatches at
prey invisible, veers away
but for how long?
Alerted onlookers
gather in shoals of
immobilized disbelief
knifed in their turn by
agile kingfisher
rocketed in
by whom?

Kingfisher dive. © Malc on Flickr